Accident in personal vehicle, outside parking lot doesn't foil benefits
Case name: Williams v. Pilgrim's Pride Corp., No. 11-59 (La. Ct. App. 06/01/11).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a driver was entitled to benefits, and the employer was granted an offset for payments made by the driver's health insurer.
What it means: In Louisiana, a worker injured while not on the employer's premises while traveling to or from work can receive benefits if he shows a distinctive travel risk exists and the risk is immediately adjacent to his workplace.
Summary: After completing a day's work, a feed truck driver parked the company truck and got in his private vehicle. As he exited the employee parking lot and approached the highway, a pipe gate, propelled by winds produced by a hurricane, entered his windshield and struck him on the back of his right shoulder and head. He was treated for post-concussion syndrome and a partial tear of his rotator cuff. The driver also sought psychological treatment for cognitive difficulties. He sought benefits. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that he was entitled to benefits.
The employer argued that he was not entitled to benefits because he was leaving work at the time of the accident. The parties disputed whether the accident occurred on the employer's property. The court found that it did. The court also said that while the employer might find the scenario "implausible," it did not find it was impossible.
The court ordered the employer to pay the driver's medical bills under the workers' compensation fee schedule. The employer also argued that it was entitled to an offset for payments made by the driver's health insurer. The court agreed because the employer paid 75 percent of the insurance premium.
The court also found the driver was entitled to temporary total disability benefits for the period until his doctor released him to restricted work. The court found that he was not entitled to supplemental earnings benefits.
The court declined to award attorney's fees and penalties to the driver, stating that the circumstances surrounding his injury gave rise to legal questions regarding whether the accident was in the course and scope of his employment.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
July 29, 2011
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